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USGA, R&A to roll out new World Handicap System in 2020

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A new handicap system is here, or rather, it will be once the USGA and R&A begin to fully implement the World Handicap System in 2020.

The new system focuses on achieving three main objectives: 1) encouraging as many golfers as possible to maintain a handicap, 2) enabling golfers of different abilities, genders, and nationalities to compete fairly, and 3) determining the score a golfer is reasonably capable of shooting at any particular course anywhere in the world.

Currently there are six handicapping systems worldwide, owing to the existence of six handicapping authorities: Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) and the USGA.

The six handicapping authorities represent approximately 15 million golfers in 80 countries who currently maintain a golf handicap.

Under the new program, the USGA and R&A will oversee the World Handicap System and the governing bodies will be in charge of local administration.

The USGA presents the WHS as a better system that simplifies the existing structures. Not surprisingly, the organization believes the WHS will compel more golfers to maintain a handicap.

“For some time, we’ve heard golfers say, ‘I’m not good enough to have a handicap,’ or ‘I don’t play enough to have a handicap,’” USGA executive director Mike Davis said. “We want to make the right decisions now to encourage a more welcoming and social game.”

Davis sees the new system marching arm-in-arm with the revisions to (and simplification of) the Rules of Golf.

“We’re excited to be taking another important step – along with modernizing golf’s rules – to provide a pathway into the sport, making golf easier to understand and more approachable and enjoyable for everyone to play.”

Key features of the WHS include:

  • Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring that a golfer’s handicap is more reflective of potential ability.
  • A minimal number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap; a recommendation that the number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap be 54 holes from any combination of 18-hole and 9-hole rounds, but with “some discretion available for handicapping authorities or national associations to set a different minimum within their own jurisdiction.”
  • A consistent handicap that “is portable” from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the USGA course and slope rating system, already used in more than 80 countries.
  • An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores and “factoring in memory of previous demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control.”
  • A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day.
  • Daily handicap revisions, taking account of the course and weather conditions calculation.
  • A limit of net double bogey on the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only).
  • A maximum handicap limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game.

The USGA and R&A conducted quantitative research in 15 countries around the world. 76 percent of the 52,000 respondents voiced their support for a World Handicap System, 22 percent were willing to consider its benefits, and only 2 percent were opposed.

The research also helped model the tenets of the WHS, but, as mentioned, don’t tear up your GHIN cards just yet: We’ve only just begun the two-year transition period prior to the implementation.

To provide feedback to the USGA on the new World Handicap System, golfers can email the USGA at whsfeedback@usga.org, or see usga.org/whs for more info.

Additionally, the USGA created this FAQ.

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Wlcdrifter

    Feb 22, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    If they are going to throw out the 12 worst scores, they should throw out the best 2 scores. Unless they are tournament scores.
    Just my opinion.

  2. Peter Renggli

    Feb 21, 2018 at 10:55 pm

    This is the best thing you can do for anoid slow play

  3. Tom

    Feb 21, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    A couple of major issues exist with very active players and with players with very few rounds. The small number of score players will have a big variance in scores. The active 4 or more rounds a week players go through the motions of experimenting daily. Then when it counts don’t experiment any more. They then are known far and wide as baggers even though they put in all their scores… My suggestion is to continue to take the best 8 scores but over a larger sample of scores for the active players. They play more so they likely don’t exert the same amount of intensity when casually playing. Bet the farm on competitions.

  4. Regis

    Feb 21, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    The only suggestion I have is for the USGA to provide a service (for a fee) so as to allow golfers to maintain a handicap directly with them. If you don’t belong to a club, association, or play one course regularly (assuming they provide a service) it’s difficult to maintain a handicap. I have a number of friends who play all over and that’s the reason they can’t maintain a legitimate USGA handicap

  5. Laurie Blundell

    Feb 21, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    a 54??? Must be a misprint. Maximum double bogey would mean maximum 36…which is BAD enough!

  6. peter collins

    Feb 21, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    “We want to make the right decisions now to encourage a more welcoming and social game.”
    I will not welcome a 54HCP player to my round of golf, i for one, will NEVER go round with a 54 HCP.Make them take lessons and get a decent HCP before mucking up my round of golf.
    This is the worst backward step i have ever heard of.
    Keep the Hcp system as it is, just introduce the slope system.

    • David R

      Feb 21, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      If a 54 handicap is the average of your best 8 rounds from the last 20, then you have no business being on a golf course let along getting a handicap.
      Max handicap should be 24, not 54.

      • Jason

        Feb 21, 2018 at 4:12 pm

        How can it be higher than 36 if double bogey is going to be the max score for cap purposes???

        • Daniel

          Feb 21, 2018 at 6:08 pm

          Perhaps re read the article.. 54 holes of golf to obtain your handicap, which australia already do but others dont. Nothing to do with max scores at all.

  7. GMatt

    Feb 21, 2018 at 11:35 am

    I’m curious as to how they are going to calculate based on weather conditions. Are you going to have to enter temperature, relative humidity, and wind speeds when you enter your scores?

    But then again when the USGA is involved, everything is clear as mud….

    • David R

      Feb 21, 2018 at 2:08 pm

      I read they would take all scores posted from your course that day and use some kind of algorithm to figure out how well you scored relative to everyone else. If scoring was tough, your score would be reflective of conditions.
      Good idea I would say.

      • Jason

        Feb 21, 2018 at 4:14 pm

        Good idea… sounds like a mess..

        I think they should have weather days.. Like level 1,2,3,4 or something. and you can that maybe times your score by a factor for each level.

        Each day the course sets the level of weather.

        • OninTwoDowninOne

          Feb 21, 2018 at 5:57 pm

          No, David R.’s statement is better than “weather days”. It’s almost like a “strength of course” rating and as such already has weather and course conditions baked in.

    • Jack Nicholas

      Feb 27, 2018 at 9:55 am

      Spot on comments. The R&A should be the one and only body for world golf. Let the US loose on anything and they have to create something different just to be different.

  8. the dude

    Feb 21, 2018 at 10:25 am

    max handicap of 54……LOL!!!

    • James T

      Feb 21, 2018 at 12:08 pm

      Please, please, please don’t pair me up with a 54!

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GolfWRX Morning 9: Mickelson’s mea culpa | Pros slay USGA | RIP to a pair of HOFers

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Good morning, GolfWRX members. As most of you are signed up for our newsletters, you likely already know that I’ve been sending this little Morning 9 roundup of nine items of note.

In case you’ve missed it, or you prefer to read on site rather than in your email, we’re including it here. Check out today’s Morning 9 below.

If you’re not signed up for our newsletters, you can subscribe here.

By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

 

June 21, 2018

Good Thurday morning, golf fans. Four days after the end of the U.S. Open, the items dominating the news wire all pertain to negative elements of the national championship. Injecting this for balance: Brooks Koepka played really well!
1. Mickelson’s mea culpa
Four days after his inglorious performance on Shinnecock’s 13th green, Phil Mickelson sent a text message to a group of reporters that included the words, “I’m sorry.”
  • “I know this should’ve come sooner, but it’s taken me a few days to calm down. My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend. I’m embarrassed and disappointed by my actions. It was clearly not my finest moment and I’m sorry.”
  • Critics will say the apology is too late in coming and doesn’t go far enough. Supporters, those amused by Mickelson’s antics, will see it as a PR gesture in the face of pressure to atone.
2. “Mike Davis is Dean Wormer”
PGA Tour players are slaying the USGA and its chief Mike Davis

Just look at these quotes from Brian Wacker’s bit for Golf Digest.

  • “It’s a private fraternity and you abide by their rules,” one multiple major winner said. “[USGA CEO] Mike Davis is Dean Wormer, except the ending is not as good as Animal House.”
  • James Hahn: “To me, that’s amateur hour...They don’t know how to run a professional event because they don’t run professional events.”
  • “Not only have we lost trust in the USGA as players, but I’ve lost trust in our national open to be in the hands of an organization like that. For how well other tournaments are run, the U.S. Open has fallen to the worst major that we have.”
  • “A lot of players are disenchanted with the organization, the tournament and the setup,” said a former winner of the event. “No, I don’t trust them.”
3. McIlroy laughed too                                                                   
The image of 48-year-old Phil Mickelson jogging after his golf ball on the 13th green at Shinnecock, Saturday, was bizarrely comedic. Even if you condemn Mickelson in the strongest of terms, taken on its face, the scene is a silly one.
  • That said, it’s interesting that two of the biggest names in the game–Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth– had the same response: laughter. Speaking before the Travelers Championship, Rory McIlroy said
  • “I saw what happened…and honestly, I laughed. I felt there was a massive overreaction to it. Knowing Phil, he knew what he was doing, and as a player who has been in that head space before in a tournament, I can see it happening.”
4. RIP to a pair of greats of the game
News of the passings of Hubert Green and Peter Thomson hit the wires yesterday. Thomson, 88, had been battling Alzheimers, and throat cancer felled Green, 71. (No disrespect intended by not leading with this story; death is, I know, a helluva lot more significant than the USGA or the ramifications of its course setups.)
  • Hubert Green’s obituary, here.
5. Spieth’s blackout
No, nothing alcohol induced, but rather, Jordan Spieth reflected on his Travelers Championship-winning bunker hole-out and the jubilant celebration (and botched chest bump) that followed.
  • “Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”
  • “There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives…I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”
6. What is “feel” in putting, really?
PGA Master Professional Rod Lidenberg offers a thorough introduction to the stimpmeter and how determining green speeds is the basis for “feel.”
  • He writes: “The key to the entire process is allowing yourself to make a subconscious connection between what your eyes have observed and the associated outcome. You must then trust what you have learned at a sub-conscious level. A conscious attempt to produce a given outcome will short-circuit the system. When it comes to judging speed, you must be prepared to surrender your conscious mind to your sub-conscious mind, which is infinitely wiser and more capable of calculating speed.”
7. Cool! Coul plans passed
The Coore & Crenshaw project near Royal Dornoch, Coul Links, has gotten the go-ahead.
Here’s something of a pull-back-the-curtain portion on the road to approval from the press release (h/t Geoff Shackelford)
  • “First, a world class links course near Dornoch would prove economically transformational, perhaps creating the Highlands as the third major golf destination in Scotland.”
  • “Second, Coul Links is an extraordinary site ecologically and our plans will improve it. We will disturb 13.4 hectares of dune habitat, but we will improve 20 hectares and provide a site management plan in perpetuity.
  • “The people in the community of Embo have spoken confidently with their outstanding support. We are humbled and thankful to be their neighbours and partners.
  • “Third, after three exhaustive years, virtually everyone in the Highlands wants this project completed. Yes, there are objectors with legitimate concerns, and we respect them but make no doubt the voice of the people has been heard.
8. Phil’s robo froyo
Not an Onion story; real thing that is actually happening here. Phil Mickelson and his manager/business partner, Steve Loy have signed a deal with Generation NEXT Franchise Brands, Inc. and its flagship subsidiary, Reis & Irvy’s, to open 30 yogurt locations in San Diego.
  • We’ll just quote directly from the press release, because, who can paraphrase language like this?
  • “Reis & Irvy’s-branded signature robot characters of the same name can dispense servings of frozen yogurt, ice cream, gelatos and sorbet topped with a selection of six delicious toppings in under 60 seconds. With self-checkout touch screen ordering and payment options, video animation, music and delicious frozen dessert provided exclusively by Dannon, robot vendors meet consumer demand for convenience, entertainment and a superior quality product.”
9. Place your bets 
A quick look at the favorites for the Travelers Championship (via Bovada)
  • Justin Thomas +1200
  • Rory McIlroy +1200
  • Jordan Spieth +1400
  • Brooks Koepka +1600
  • Patrick Reed +1600
  • Jason Day +1600
  • Paul Casey +2000
  • Webb Simpson +2000
  • Marc Leishman +2500
  • Bryson DeChambeau +2500
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Phil Mickelson apologizes for U.S. Open display

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Phil Mickelson has apologized for his actions at Shinnecock Hills, Saturday.

In a text sent to a select group of reporters, Mickelson said Wednesday

“I know this should’ve come sooner, but it’s taken me a few days to calm down. My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend. I’m embarrassed and disappointed by my actions. It was clearly not my finest moment and I’m sorry.”

Mickelson spoke briefly with reporters after exiting the scoring tent, Saturday. To refresh, it was then that he said

“It’s certainly not meant (to show disrespect). It’s meant to take advantage of the rules as best you can. In that situation I was just, I was just going back and forth. I’ll gladly take the two shots over continuing that display,” and “I’ve had multiple times when I’ve wanted to do that, and I finally did.”

The left-hander didn’t speak with the media Sunday, and he hadn’t issued any statements prior to the text.

He was penalized two shots for hitting a ball in motion, but the USGA stopped short of disqualifying Mickelson, believing that his actions didn’t constitute a “serious breach” of the rules. Mickelson spoke with USGA chief Mike Davis at length about the incident, and the governing body remained steadfast in its conclusion.

Responses from the media and his peers ranged from amusement, to support, to outright condemnation. Additionally, just how calculated Mickelson’s actions were was a subject for debate, with some believing Mickelson merely lost his head and the calculated “taking advantage of the rules” explanation was merely a post hoc invention.

The apology, and the timing and method of the apology, will do little to satisfy Mickelson’s critics on the matter. For those, like Jordan Spieth, who believe Mickelson was merely using the rules in his favor, the mea culpa was likely unnecessary.

Surely, the text message will not put the incident to bed.

Mickelson is next expected in the field in two weeks at The Greenbrier.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: Mickelson still on pros’ minds | Scotty Cameron speaks

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Good morning, GolfWRX members. As most of you are signed up for our newsletters, you likely already know that I’ve been sending this little Morning 9 roundup of nine items of note.

In case you’ve missed it, or you prefer to read on site rather than in your email, we’re including it here. Check out today’s Morning 9 below.

If you’re not signed up for our newsletters, you can subscribe here.

By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

 

June 20 2018

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans. What a golf world we live in. I’ve been getting a few emails from readers saying someone from the USGA mispronounced low amateur Matt Parziale’s last name during the U.S. Open trophy ceremony. I didn’t see it; but if so, good grief.
1. Mickelson on their minds

 

Perhaps you’re tired of hearing about Phil Mickelson’s actions Saturday at Shinnecock, but players on the PGA Tour aren’t tired of talking about the subject. Additionally, several gentlemen’s early U.S. Open exits means this week at the Travelers is the media’s first chance to catch up with them (Spieth, McIlroy, Day).
  • …and of course, anonymous takes! (via Brian Wacker) “He should’ve been disqualified,” insisted one former major champion. “Why don’t these governing bodies just enforce the friggin’ rules? It was like Tiger [at the Masters] in 2013. That was a hard one, but this one Phil knew what he did and told everyone what he did, which was worse. It’s like robbing a place, walking out and saying to the cops ‘I did it,’ and the cops go, ‘It’s OK, it’s just you.'”
  • Brandt Snedeker: “He hit a moving ball and tried to use the rules to his advantage,” said Brandt Snedeker, who was among those who thought Mickelson should not have been DQed. “The USGA had a chance to disqualify him for being egregious and they didn’t, so no. The rules screw us over so many times, so more power to him for using them.”
  • Jordan Spieth: “I laughed, I thought it was really funny…”Phil knows the rules,” he said. “There was a chance it was going to go back behind the bunker and he’s got to chip back, or he was going to play off the green anyways, so he was potentially saving himself a shot. So if that was the intent, then what’s the harm in that?”
2. Jason Day pulls no punches

 

Taking one particularly hot take off the plate of responses, Jason Day (who won’t face awkwardness with Mickelson in any Ryder or Presidents Cup locker rooms) was pretty clear in stating Mickelson ought to have been disqualified.
  • “It’s just unfortunate that it happened at the USGA’s tournament, where they enforce the rules, like the R&A. And I think they may have, they probably should have enforced a different outcome for Phil….But it is what it is. It’s done. It’s just disappointing that that is overshadowing the winner of the whole week. I think if they had it back again, they may have chosen a different outcome.”
The Australian also had some choice words for golf’s governing body regarding course setup.
  • “…Saturday was a total, it was like two different golf courses, practically, on the greens Saturday versus Sunday,” Day said. “I just wish they would leave it alone and just let it go. Not saying to let the greens go and let them dry out and make it unfair, I’m just saying plan accordingly and hopefully whatever the score finishes, it finishes, whether it’s under par or over par.”
3. The Phil Rule

 

All of this brings us here: Golf.com’s Dylan Dethier says it’s time for “the Phil Rule” in the wake of Lefty’s creative use of Rule 14-5.
  • “…giving Mickelson just the two-shot penalty essentially endorsed this hockey-style alley-oop as legitimate strategy. As a result, the USGA (which has not yet responded to GOLF.com’s request for comment) is left with one option: It’s time for the Phil Rule.”
  • “But the USGA ultimately cited rule 14-5, which covers strokes made at a moving ball and also calls for a two-stroke penalty, but has no clause covering additional punishment. Because of the precedent now set, a new rule should address the simple fact that hitting a moving ball just isn’t a part of golf. The so-called Phil Rule will be simple: anyone who intentionally strikes a moving ball will be disqualified.”

 

4. Johnson on Shinnecock

 

Andy Johnson at the Fried Egg is a Voice (capital V) in golf, and we’re lucky he’s emerged in recent years. His U.S. Open post-mortem is a must read.
  • A taste…”Many of today’s prototypical Tour pros appeared clueless at Shinnecock thanks to changing winds, uneven lies and vexing green complexes. The idea of flighting a 4-iron into a modest wind from 180 to control the spin as opposed to bashing a 7-iron is a foreign concept. Rather than use the ground around the greens, many immediately grabbed their 60 degree and watched helplessly as chip shots rolled back to their feet. Shinnecock Hills asked a slew of questions to the world’s best players that they had never seen.”
  • “The technology effect has been two-fold. It’s made it nearly impossible for the USGA to properly set up a golf course, and it has also robbed the game of skill. Combine the two together, and the line of a good setup and bad setup is razor thin. The vast majority of players lacked the ability to hit the shots that were needed at Shinnecock, and their first reaction was to complain.”
5. PGA’s double standard?

 

Mike Purkey of MorningRead.com takes issue with the PGA of America’s decision not to take action against president Paul Levy following his June 7 DUI…especially in light of the organization’s eagerness to remove Ted Bishop
  • Purkey writes: “Here are the facts, based on the police report: Levy got behind the wheel impaired and put people and property in danger. The fact that he hit only a traffic sign is a stroke of pure luck. The question must be asked: If Levy had hit a car with people inside, would the PGA leadership look at this incident in a different light?”
  • “If the answer is “yes,” then the PGA has the obligation to remove Levy from office. Because it doesn’t matter what – or whom – Levy ran his car into if, in fact, he was impaired. He could have injured or killed innocent motorists while on the road in his condition. That’s the disqualifying factor.”

 

6. Ted Bishop

 

Speaking of Ted Bishop, the former PGA of America president spoke at length with our Michael Williams on his 19th Hole podcast.

 

Here’s a bit of what he had to say about the U.S. Open setup
  • “You know Michael, I thought the most telling interview that I saw the entire weekend on the course set up was the one that FOX did yesterday with Patrick Reed when his round was finished. And they asked him about the Saturday setup and he said, “You know, I really didn’t have a problem with it.” He said, “There were two pins on 13 and 15 that were maybe two yards out of place and it made a completely different situation on the putting greens.” But he said, “Other than that, I didn’t have any issues with it.” And that’s his personality. He’s the guy that rolls with the flow and doesn’t make any excuses.”
  • “Now obviously, there were a lot of players that were very critical. I was just reading an article before this phone call. Some quotes from Steve Stricker, for example. And Strick’s usually a guy that doesn’t say anything bad about anything and he was very critical of about the set up. But I think the biggest controversy would be the fact that the players in the morning on Saturday were probably a different golf course than the players in the afternoon were. And that’s just sometimes in golf, the way that it goes.”

 

7. A raw release

 

Raw iron sets, at the retail level, are rare, so it’s cool to see WIlson introducing the FG Tour V6 Raw irons.
  • The new FG Tour V6 Raw irons have an unplated finish, and they’re designed to “develop a unique patina based on age, exposure and use over time,” according to Wilson. This gives each iron a unique look, and one that’s far from the clean cut original FG Tour release that had a chrome finish.
8. Scotty speaks!

 

Famed putter maker Scotty Cameron spoke with longtime equipment scribe E. Michael Johnson.

 

A morsel…What’s the coolest item you have in the Gallery right now?
  • “I made a putter for myself. I think alligator is such a gentlemanly, cool material. So I made myself a Gatorback putter. It’s kind of like an 8802, but with a wide-bodied flange. I can do the wide-body flange because I have an aluminum sole plate. But the back has something that looks like the dashboard from a Bentley. But then that long, round flange in the back is kind of a plain area of blankness.”
  • “So I milled a little pocket back there that has a rim of stainless steel, then I created a stamp the shape of the mill pocket, cut out the alligator. I used a special glue to inlay the alligator into the back of the putter, so it has a Gatorback Bentley back and bottom. It’s spectacular. And then I matched it with an alligator grip. Then I took the alligator to make headcovers to match the grip and the back. It is expensive and it’s a pain to do, but when I was done with it I went, “Oh my goodness.”

 

9. Shark in the buff

 

As he said he’d consider doing when asked by Michael Williamson our 19th Hole podcast

, Greg Norman is set to appear in the ESPN “Body Issue.”
  • The 63-year-old will follows in the footsteps of Gary Player, as well as number of other golfers, including Camilo Villegas, Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Sandra Gal, Suzann Pettersen, and Christina Kim.
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